Summer 2017, our latest editorial highlighting the brand new labels now available at Commonwealth's Manila location featuring Arthur and Thomas Bray of YETI OUT. The Brothers Bray also took time out of their schedule to tell us about their world of "creative curations and beastly bookings".
Interview by Miguel Escobar
Campaign shot by Ralph Mendoza and Redge Hawang
Styled by Karen Bolilia
Tells us about YETI OUT. You’ve described your work as “creative curations + beastly bookings”—What exactly does that involve?
Arthur: Yeti Out was founded by myself and Erisen Ali in London in 2010, before Tom headed things up in Asia. We started as a blog then moved on to host radio shows and throw parties in London, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Vancouver (where Tom lived for a stint).
Tom: In essence, we’re a DJ/music collective with the “beastly bookings” part stemming from regular club nights and parties that we organize, alongside tours we manage in Asia and SEA. While the “creative curations” come from brand consultancy work we do for the likes of VICE, Nike, W Hotel, adidas Originals and others, and also less music-driven projects such as exhibitions during Art Basel and art installations throughout the year.
Does the name “YETI OUT” carry a meaning or origin story?
Arthur: There are number of meanings that originate from debauche-filled nights in London, but the more general explanation of Yeti Out derives from the follow-up to Yeti in the Basement, the original name of the blog. Once Tom and I moved back to Hong Kong where we were born, we brought the same vibe over to Asia, which meant the Yeti essentially came out the basement, ha.
Tom: Yeah, and we used to sign off our blog posts with “Yeti Out,” but we’ve also heard people use the name as a synonym for wild’ n out too.
You’ve also mentioned that this all started with an appetite for rare dub vinyls and basement parties in London. Can you tell us the story of how it expanded from there?
Tom: Yeti Out was founded when blogs were striving (a time before Instagam took off) and we would spend endless hours on Hypemachine downloading every MP3 file we could get our hands on. It was also an exciting time in the UK, 3 - 4 years on from when dubstep first exploded. Instrumental grime was making waves, alongside “future garage” or whatever journalists were calling it back then, so there was a lot of digging both online and offline.
Arthur: When we started, I was straddling an internship at FACT magazine and shifts at Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings. Luckily, I got a lot of free promo CDs and LPs through those gigs which I could play at our parties that were held at basements across East London such as Visions Video Bar and The Cornershop. So that's where the name also comes from.
Why Asia? Was there anything specific that drew you guys to the scene here?
Tom: I moved to Shanghai after learning the ropes in promotions/bookings at Vancouver’s Fortune Sound Club and Arthur moved back to Hong Kong. We wanted to do the same shows in Asia and bring the same artists that billed our parties previously. We're both Chinese and grew up in Asia so it only felt right.
In the years that you’ve spent working in the creative circles of Asia, what have you learned about music and urban culture in this side of the world?
Arthur: Underground music and club culture isn’t as widely supported as it is in other parts of Europe and North America. This makes promoting a lot harder as the turn out could be low at times which means a loss in revenue, but in turn, you get to meet some likeminded creatives who are also trying to build something more unique than your run-of-the-mill club night.
How about the Philippines in particular: is there anything you’ve picked up from and about our underground music and street culture scene? Can you describe your experience here?
Arthur: Manila is so rad. The energy is great and the people are ready to rage. I’m so stoked that Manila recently got its Boiler Room debut as there’s so much talent in the city. Shout out to Blackmarket of course, the chapel. As for streetwear, Commonwealth is also killing it with its brand selection and activation.
How does the Filipino scene compare and relate to the rest of Asia?
Tom: I think the Filipino scene is still very much influenced by the States. We did a UK Grime night at Blackmarket recently and some people got it while others were confused.
Arthur: Similar to the Indonesian clubbing crowd, when Filipinos go out they’re really wild ‘n out. No holds barred. Whereas other parts of Asia like Hong Kong or Tokyo, attendees could be more reserved.
You’ve talked about joining the dots between different subcultures and bridging East and West. How have you managed to do this? How about your greatest accomplishments to this end?
Arthur: With every party, we always make sure there’s locals headlining the bill and with our Radar Radio show in London, we make sure to highlight rising producers from Asia as our guests. We’re also working on a mixtape right now called ‘Silk Road’ which will be a compilation of artists that bridge both sides of the pond.
Tom: It's always rewarding to expose music to places that are hungry for it. The response to Jay Prince's 9 city Asia tour last month was massive! We've also been fortunate to play in some crazy locations lately, from festivals on The Great Wall of China to Inner Mongolian desserts, it's been wild.
Tell us about the clothes we shot you in. Any favorite pieces, or brands that you’re partial to?
Arthur: The new Stussy drop has some nice crewnecks and raglan tees. The maharishi joggers are also really well-fitted.
Tom: I really liked the Olaf Hussein sweater, he's the homie so it's awesome to see his brand being carried in Manila.What do you see in the future of the Asian underground music scene, and of the street culture scene here in general?